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Lifestyle sports and national sport policy: an agenda for research

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There has been a proliferation of new sporting forms over the two decades that have challenged traditional ways of conceptualising and practicing sport. These new forms, variously labelled ‘action’, ‘new’, ‘wizz’, ‘extreme’ and ‘lifestyle’ sports, have commercial and competitive dimensions, but are essentially understood by participants as bodily experiences – about ‘doing it’

While challenging mainstream sport in terms of cultural significance, participation figures are hard to establish, as are recognised forms of regulation and governance. Beyond some limited market research, there has been very little substantive research into participation rates and patterns, nor on the socio-demographic characteristics of participants. Yet these new sporting forms have the potential to contribute significantly to the achievement of Government’s Game Plan activity targets. Lifestyle is understood as a self-interpreted pattern of actions that differentiates one person from another (or allies people through shared practice). Lifestyle sports contribute to this, through interpretations of how people look and behave, what subcultural choices and affiliations they make, what forms of control they take over their lives – for example against formal bureaucracies or sports associations. Lifestyle – and associated sporting forms – are thus associated with wider patterns of consumption, taste and identity.

There are three central concepts related to lifestyle sports: ‘alternative’ (practices differentiated from conventional sporting forms); ‘lifestyle’ (meanings related to personal factors beyond – although not to the exclusion of - success in competition); ‘extreme’ (a label given to aspects of practice associated with risk-taking, including extreme locations, extreme emotions, transgression and extreme skills; also associated with branding and commodifying some aspects of practice). In contrast to the regulation of conventional sports, alternative or lifestyle sports are characterised by a relative lack of regulation and a customary refusal by participants to follow regulatory codes. Paradoxically, however, commercialisation and competition have led to a need to establish some codes and boundaries, although these subsequently act as markers for the extreme practice of the elite participants.



 editors comments   

Editor's comments - [  This report is based on a desk study of available evidence about lifestyle sports in the UK. It consists of conventional published material, recent research undertaken for Government, market analyses and trend data, internet searches, trade and lifestyle magazines and personal contacts with youth workers, probation officers, physical education professionals and others.  ]  Reference this?Cryer, J. (Year). This page title in italics. Retrieved date, from <this page's full URL>

In the text: Cryer (year)


APA reference for this document


Reference : Tomlinson, A. Ravenscroft, N. Wheaton, B. Gilcrest, P. (2005). Lifestyle sports and national sport policy: an agenda for research. London: Sport England


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Download this file (Lifestyle_sports_and_national_sports_policy[1].pdf)Lifestyle_sports_and_national_sports_policy[1].pdfTomlinson, A. Ravenscroft, N. Wheaton, B. Gilcrest, P. (2005). Lifestyle sports and national sport policy: an agenda for research. London: Sport England
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 July 2009 15:08  

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